Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering JFK

Each year during the past forty-nine,  there has been less and less said about JFK's assassination. It appalled  me, but I understood that most of us living today weren't even born in 1963.

Today I feel vindicated as the channels are full of his family, his funeral and his exploits,  though as usual, the media doesn't know when enough is enough.  It's okay, though, because our younger citizens need to know. Even though we will be inundated over the weekend,  allow me one more personal remembrance of JFK:

I was kind of in love with Kennedy. I admired his family and followed his administration; I was young and idealistic and when I read of his heroic exploits in the South Pacific during WWII, I became a devotee. Until today, however, his legacy has been laced with a kind of blandness as though aside from his youth, his wit and charisma, his attractive young family, he really accomplished very little. This is blatantly false.

There are a number of things to admire about his presidency other than his weekly banter with the White House Press Corp and his awe inspiring speeches. True, he allowed Khrushchev to get the upper hand (at first). Also true, that the Berlin Wall went up during his tenure. Indeed, he resided over the Bay of Pigs fiasco and we're all aware of his "indiscretions." But I believe today, that had that young president lived, he might have been one of our greatest leaders. Remember, he had only a thousand days in which to accomplish his agenda.

The thing I remember about the Kennedy administration was the sense of idealism and public service it inspired in us, more than I have seen since, even though President Obama came close in 2008. We wanted to serve back then; patriotism was not just a word being thrown back in our faces when we disagreed with government policies, it was a conviction. We believed passionately and reacted fervently.

As for his accomplishments, take note: the Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress, Civil Rights legislation, the Space Program and the introduction of the Green Berets. His major accomplishment, however, was a tight and tense little psychological drama between the USA and the USSR known as The Cuban Missile Crisis, which, without the facile maneuvering of the Kennedys, might have left the world in a state of nuclear disaster.

I guess his potential greatness will never be known which is what happens when someone takes you out before your time. But I think when all is said and done, his star will ultimately shine as one of the brightest. And though there are abundant tributes to you this day, Mr. President, I would like to say that I remember.  And I am grateful to have learned my political abc's under your leadership. You never blamed others for your mistakes -- you took your lumps with calm and grace. How refreshing it would be if our leaders today would learn to do the same.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What now?

I haven't written a post since January -- that's over six months ago.  The reason is that my husband and I moved house and home and I got a fast paced, fairly stressful job, having to commute 104.3 miles a day.  And then, just to add a little flavor to the mix, I broke a small bone in my foot -- which is bearable, but a nuissance.

I quit the job after 5 and a half months and we are now temporarily ensconsed with my son until August 30 or so.  I hobble around the house wondering what to do with myself for another six weeks at which time we will move to a little house on the Oregon Coast for a year.   It sounds like we're busy, doesn't it? 

Still, I'm not doing anything right now.  I'm not writing, I'm not working; I lay around, nursing my foot so I can walk up and down the streets of Manhattan for a week without a crutch. 

I look forward to this trip as I have not been there since I was seventeen and had a huge bite out of the Big Apple for which I was at a perfectly ripe age:  theatre, the Met, Times Square, LaPuma Opera, sitting at Russell's Coffee Shop until the 3 a.m. Workers' Mass at (I think) St. Gregory's.  Wonderful memories, all.

Still,  what now? 

I have a full month and a half to do something meaningful.  A new novel is what I should be writing, as my husband says, nudging  me every morning to "get started."  One so completely different from my first one, that it will blow people away he says. 

"Not away," I suggest,  "blow their minds, maybe."

Let us hope.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Many Layers of Knowing

Many Layers of Knowing
This review is from: When the Eagle Flies with the Condor: A Novel of the Sixties (Paperback)
"When the Eagle Flies with the Condor," is not a simple or undemanding book. Most good works require something from the reader and this book asks for your attention. You will be immensely rewarded if you can read it through as I did, cover to cover, in a weekend.

The story covers a period I'm familiar with - the rambunctious sixties: the rebelliousness, the quirkiness, the easy love, the drugs, and of course the war. These are all background attributes, but as the characters move smoothly among them, they create their own personal history which becomes a rich and colorful fabric with them in the foreground.

Bernie is an unlikely heroine, bold and sometimes obnoxious with her bossiness, yet tender and giving to a fault. Her life epitomizes the loose world--a dynamism that lasts a decade. Though she dabbles in the major events of the time, including anti-war protests that rock the nation, she chooses instead to care for and live among the natives of Bolivia, thus providing the novel with tension and an intriguing sub-plot involving Che Guevara. Her brother, Nick, is the love of her life, who, becomes disenchanted with his at an early age and opts to enlist and deploy to Vietnam. Here, he meets the third leg of this literary threesome, Spirit Deer, a native American Pawnee.

Nick and Deer are brothers in spirit and Deer gradually becomes enamored with Bernie through her letters to Nick. He and Nick share their fears and longings through the long Vietnamese nights and Deer gives Nick the support he seems to need, facing death, and the shams of the modern world.

The book has many layers of knowing - historical, romantic, an exotic land, religious, native shamanistic ritual, and the spiritual and all-consuming love of mother earth known by the natives as Pachamama.

Don't miss "When the Eagle Flies with the Condor, a novel of the Sixties." You won't regret it. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chuck Hagel for Defense

I am very confused and more disappointed in our Congress than ever when I hear reasonably intelligent senators like Lindsay Graham say that Chuck Hagel would be “very antagonistic toward the state of Israel” if he becomes Secretary of Defense.  How does he come to this point of view? 
Well, it seems, that in a 2006 interview, Mr. Hagel made the comment that the "political reality" in Washington was that "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here," presumably a statement that reeks of anti-Semitism.  Jewish lobby is a politically incorrect statement to the conservative right, as no one wants to admit that the current bellicose Netanyahu government controls a lot of what does go on in Washington.  So perhaps Israeli lobby would have been a more appropriate term. But the Netanyahu goverment is loved neither by all Israelis, nor all Jews and is farther right in the conservative sense than most of the tea party in our own House of Representatives.  They worked furiously with the help of Sheldon Adelson’s billions and other wealthy Americans to elect Mitt Romney for president in November.  If this is not lobbying, what is? 
We have hundreds of lobbies and lobbyists in Washington; why is Jewish lobby such a controversial term anyway?  In a recent article by Richard Cohen in The Washington Post, he discusses Anita Shapira’s new book, “Israel:  a History” in which she freely uses the term, Jewish lobby. “Shapira is professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University,” writes Cohen. 
 I had believed Lindsay Graham to be less partisan than he’s shown himself to be.  But then, look what happened to McCain whose petulant attitude towards all things Obama, began to take shape after the election in 2008. As I think about it, perhaps that is why Graham is so virulent in his opposition to Hagel:  he (Graham) is and has always been a McCain supporter and Hagel (a Republican) supported Obama instead of McCain in 2008.  In my opinion this is even more evidence that his view of the world would be less partisan and more thoughtful. 
Aside from the issue of anti-semitism which some claim disqualifies Mr Hagel,  he is a fully qualified candidate, not only by virtue of his senate career, but by virtue of his combat experience as a grunt during the war in Vietnam during which he earned not one, but two Purple Hearts. He has the experience and understanding of the enlisted man and will  not only be unwilling to send them in to battle unnecessarily but support them when they return home.  
He will counsel diplomacy – another dirty word to some – and will attempt to bring sanity to the manic leader in the Middle East, who is twitching to drop a bomb on Iran and then wait for the U.S. military to clean up his mess.  Additionally, he urges talks with Hamas, the despised Palestinians, and others in that Middle Eastern caldron of hate.   
That Mr. Hagel will not be a puppet to Benjamin Netanyahu is evident in a statement he made in 2008: “I am not an Israeli senator; I am a United States senator.”  This is not a statement made by an anti-Semitic, dear readers, this is a statement made by a true patriot whose own country is his primary concern. And if Mr. Graham truly believes that former Senator Hagel as Secretary of Defense will be antagonistic towards the state of Israel because he believes there is an Israeli Lobby in Washington, he should wake up.  It exists -- now, during the campaign and will continue to exist after Netanyahu gains another term as Prime Minister (as is expected) on the 22nd of this month.